Monmouth County voters will have two familiar names to choose from for the 2012 clerk’s race. Democrat Michael Steinhorn, a Rumson resident who lost a bid for surrogate in last year’s election, is challenging incumbent Monmouth County Clerk M. Claire French on the November ballot. French, a Republican from Wall, is seeking her fourth full term.
French and Steinhorn attended a League of Women Voters candidates’ forum at Monmouth County Library Headquarters in Manalapan on Wednesday to make their case for why they should be elected county clerk.
The constitutional office has a five-year term. The Monmouth County Clerk’s Office is responsible for maintaining property records and historical archives, issuing passports and recording election results.
Michael Steinhorn - Democrat
Steinhorn is a retired CPA with a juris doctor degree from Brooklyn Law School. Currently a realtor with Diane Turton Realtors in Rumson and genealogist and local historian, Steinhorn said his background makes him uniquely qualified for the clerk’s position.
“My background is so well suited to be the clerk,” Steinhorn said. “I think I have the ability to present results in a fair manner, consistent with the job of counting the vote on Election Day. In the accounting role, I was a manager at an international accounting firm supervising many, many people, which is what the county clerk does. The current budget provides for almost 63 people to work under the clerk, so this is a very appointment-centric job.”
Steinhorn said he believes the clerk’s office could do more to ensure all Monmouth County residents have access to services.
“It’s one thing to assume people can get to where you want them to go. We have to make sure services are available to everyone. We should go to greater lengths to reach people who are handicapped, seniors, or military,” Steinhorn said.
Monmouth County Clerk M. Claire French - Republican
French, a former Wall mayor who previously worked in state government, touted the technology improvements in the clerk’s office that have taken place under her watch.
“Technology is what my office is all about. I designed an electronic portal so people can record documents in my office from any place in the world,” French said. ”Because I spent money on designing that, I offered it to other counties.”
She noted that after determining that two-thirds of the population would be closer to a Neptune location than to Freehold, the county pursued a satellite clerk’s office on Route 66. The office will open within two weeks.
“If we can find ways to serve all our constituencies better by using technology and satellite offices, we have a responsibility to do it. It’s being designed so it will generate revenue also and pay for itself,” French said. “All 63 county departments have been invited to make use of this. It will be the place you can go to get your ID, your passport, if you’re a veteran, you can come there and get a veterans ID.”
The candidates for county clerk will appear at a county candidates’ night sponsored by the Lincroft Village Green Association on Tuesday, Oct. 23 at 7 p.m. at Lincroft Elementary School.